That's the claim of a website called ThisMan.org which tells the story of how, in New York in 2006, the patient of a well-known psychiatrist drew the face of a man that had been repeatedly appearing in her dreams. Later, another patient recognized the portrait and claimed that the same man also visited him in his dreams.
The story goes, that the psychiatrist circulated the image among other patients with recurring dreams and found four others who dreamed of This Man. The snowball effect continued until more than 2,000 people claimed to be dreaming of This Man.
In 2009, a website was launched telling the story of This Man, with anonymous quotes from thousands of people talking about this apparently benevolent character appearing, sometimes repeatedly, in their dreams.
The website has accrued several portraits of This Man:
The site also published a number of anonymous dream quotes:
"I have had this recurrent dream for some years now. A tall, dark man shows me a picture and asks me if I can recognise my father in it. The man in the picture is this man I have never seen before, he looks nothing like my dad, nevertheless I inexplicably answer that I do recognize my father. At this point I usually wake up feeling very peaceful. Other times the dream continues, I am standing before my father’s grave, I place some flowers on the ground and I realise the photograph on the tombstone is missing."
"I fell in love with him from the very first time I saw him in my dream. Even though if I think about it I must admit he’s really ugly. And yet each and every time, he sweeps me off my feet with his romantic gestures and sweet words. He buys me flowers, jewellery, he takes me out to dinner or to the beach to watch the sunset."
"I have always had this dream of flying in the sky over my city and observing my friends from up there. Since I moved to another house I started meeting this man while flying. Not every single time that I have this dream about flying, but often enough. He flies too, but he never speaks."
"The first time I had a dream about this man I was having a hard time at work. I had a dream about getting lost in a huge and deserted shopping mall. Suddenly this man appeared and I started running away from him. He chased after me for what seemed like an hour until I found myself against a wall in the kids’ area in a supermarket. At this point he smiled at me and he showed me the way out towards the cash desks and I woke up. Ever since that night this man has appeared in all of my dreams and he always gives me directions to get out of the dream and wake up."
"I dreamt this man… was Brazilian and very handsome. He was a schoolteacher type with 6 fingers on his right hand. He said if the US had a nuclear disaster: go North!"
"I have seen this man in 3 completely different dreams. He was slightly different from the picture, but I recognized him immediately. He appeared suddenly and disappeared in the same manner. His message in all 3 of my dreams was: 'It’s all over.' That was repeated 3 times in each dreams. The differences in the picture and the man in my dreams are: his hair was a little longer in the top; his eyebrows were not as bushy. Other than that, he is identical. I had no fear of him, but many questions."
What's the deal? ThisMan.org offers us some innocent and not-so-innocent explanations for the origins of This Man:
ARCHETYPE THEORY - Jung's psychoanalytic theory suggests that This Man is an archetypal image belonging to the collective unconscious that can surface in times of hardship in sensitive subjects.
RELIGIOUS THEORY - According to religious folk This Man is one of the forms in which God manifests himself today. For this reason his dreamy wisdom should always be followed by the dreamers.
DREAM SURFER THEORY - Some say that This Man is a real person, who can enter people's dreams via some form of paranormal mutual dreaming. This Man may even be a mental conditioning plan developed by a major corporation. (Inception-style. Like it.)
DREAM IMITATION THEORY - This is a scientific psycho-sociological theory which claims that the phenomenon has arisen casually and has progressively developed by imitation. When people are exposed to This Man they become so deeply impressed that they start seeing this man in their dreams.
It turns out, we may not need a special theory to explain This Man after all.
The site turns out to be created by Andrea Natella, a marketing strategist who runs the firm Guerilla Marketing, which designs subversive hoaxes to drum up public interest.
The site was soon bought by horror movie production company, Ghost House Pictures, to be used as part of the promotion for an upcoming film titled (guess what...) This Man.
What I like about this hoax is that not only does it pique our interest on a profound level (there were so many juicy explanations for This Man) but the portrait itself is compelling even without the backstory. That's because This Man is Every Man.
EVERYMAN - The face of This Man is an amalgamation of many common facial features, designed as a kind of catch-all to rouse a sense of familiarity... The hair is full and yet also balding. His eyes could be any color at all. His lips are partly full and partly thin. He has no distinctive race. His face shape is simultaneously angular and round. Cover the lower half of his face and he looks old; cover the upper half and he looks young. Cover the right half and his eye is hooded, his nose large, his lips full; cover the left half and his eye is smaller, his nose petit, his lips thin - in fact it's a very different face altogether. These myriad common features mean that many people, from all over the globe, might find familiarity in his face and therefore seek to perpetuate the viral nature of This Man.
Of course, there is one other theory:
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Why write a book about how to "hack" sleep? Well, I've suffered from sleep issues throughout my entire adult life. Sleep was such a tough thing to figure out. It didn't respond to willpower. I could beg and cry and kick and scream to myself to fall asleep, but my body would not listen. Finally, I realized that enough was enough and that I was going to fix this very important area of my life for good, or at least do my best to try. I spent nearly one year constructing a system to improve the quality of my sleep.
Humans are unique in our endless capacity for imagination. According to Steven Mithen, an anthropologist at the University of Reading in the UK, we needed to evolve seven critical mental skills before we could have imagination as we know it. Each of these abilities serve a distinct purpose in their own right, while imagination is the culmination of them all.
This dream starts out pretty violent but then suddenly goes all profound on me. I'm having a nightmare in which a thin, gray-faced man is trying to kill me. I become lucid and battle him with ease, firing shots of lighting out of my hands and hitting him in the chest. He falls to his knees and I lock him in a gated prison using only my mind. But then my lucid dream evolves into a lucid nightmare. Another villain, who looks like Krang (or Krang's body at least) from that delightful cartoon about giant mutant turtles, frees the gray man using his telepathic powers. I am no match for him.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?